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Distinguishing Between Approved Electronic Pull-Tab & Possibly Illegal Gambling Devices

May 8, 2013 | Virginia News

TO: Virginia Police Chiefs

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is responsible for the licensing, inspection, and auditing of all entities involved in charitable gaming in the Commonwealth. Permissible charitable gaming activities include bingo, raffles, and pull-tabs.

During the 2007 legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the promulgation of regulations for electronic pull-tab systems. The regulations (11 Va. Admin. Code 15-40 et seq., Charitable Gaming Regulations) became effective in November 2012. Since then, almost 200 devices have been installed at approximately 70 different sites.

This correspondence is intended to assist you in distinguishing between approved electronic pull-tab systems and possibly illegal gambling devices that may merit closer inspection.

An electronic pull-tab system is a computer system used to distribute a finite number of electronic pull-tab “tickets”. A pre-established number of electronic pull-tab “tickets” will entitle a player to prize awards at various levels. Before any electronic pull-tab device may be distributed or used in the Commonwealth, the manufacturer of the system must receive (i) a permit issued by VDACS, (ii) an approval letter from VDACS acknowledging the certification of the manufacturer’s system by a VDACS-recognized testing laboratory, and (iii) a letter from VDACS approving each electronic pull-tab game’s themes, sounds, and music.

The regulations limit the number of electronic pull-tab player devices that may be present at a location as noted in the table below. The regulations do not restrict the size of electronic pull-tab player device that is used and, as such, the devices may include handheld devices, bar-top devices, or stand-alone cabinets.

Type of establishment Maximum number of devices permissible in a location
Location open to the public where bingo is conducted 50 handheld-sized devices
10 non-handheld devices
Location open only to the charitable organization’s members and guests (i.e. social quarters) 5 devices, regardless of size

Each device must bear a seal affixed by VDACS. An image of the seal is included below.

If a charitable organization chooses to sell electronic pull-tabs to its players, the organization must purchase or lease its electronic pull-tab system from a registered supplier or directly from a registered manufacturer. A list of registered manufacturers of electronic pull-tab systems and registered suppliers is available on the VDACS website at

Should your investigators, officers, or deputies have any questions about whether an electronic gaming device is an approved electronic pull-tab device, I encourage you to contact me at (804) 786-3983 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Michael Menefee
Program Manager
Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs